Remember back in ye olden days when reaching out to your customers meant thousands of identical pieces of mail? With variable data printing, you can stop treating your customers like numbers and start treating them like people.
What is variable data printing, and how can you use it to drive customer engagement? Here’s what businesses need to know.
What is Variable Data Printing?
Before the days of variable data printing, businesses had to send 5,000 copies of the same piece of mail or expend hours of effort (and a lot of money) to offer even a modicum of personalization.
Variable data printing changes the game.
Variable data printing is a printing technique that uses software to change the output of a digital printing press. By drawing on data in a spreadsheet or database, the software allows printers to personalize each piece with unique information.
That way, you can create unique print pieces—all in a single mass print run.
Types of Variable Data Printing
Data points for variable data printing can be almost anything, but a few common examples include things like:
- Purchase history
On their own, these data points are just that—data points. But when you combine them in various ways, you can use variable data printing to create truly unique mail for each customer.
Because of this, variable data printing is best used to create a unique customer experience.
At the most basic level, your customization can include a customer’s name on their mailing label. This allows a touch of customization while still allowing you to save money on a mass print run.
At a more advanced level, you can use variable data printing to generate unique graphics and page designs for each individual customer based on their unique information. In these cases, the more you know about your customer, the more you can tailor your mailing based on their unique customer experience.
How It Works
This is all possible thanks to the power of technology in printing.
Let’s say you want to send out a batch of letters to your customers, each one customized with the customer’s name and address. This is the most basic form of variable data printing. In any form of variable data printing, you get to choose the variables you want, essentially filling in the blanks for the printer to customize the run.
Once you gather your data points and provide them to your printer, variable data printing software will pull from the data points to fill in the blanks, working down the list to customize each print item in the run.
You need three things for this process: data points, a digital printer, and software, specifically a digital printer and software that can handle large amounts of data and quickly respond to each change without slowing down the process.
Of course, if you could save yourself time and money by having your printer produce 5,000 identical pieces of mail, why go to the trouble of customizing?
In short, because your customers demand it.
Thanks to online retailers like Amazon, 80% of customers want and expect personalization from retailers. More to the point, customers now treat it like a hygiene factor—they take it for granted, but if you get it wrong, customers leave. And for those who stay, the results are telling—successful personalization yields 20% higher customer satisfaction rates and a 10% to 15% boost in sales conversions.
As for direct mail specifically, customers want personalization in their mailbox just as much as their inbox. 84% of customers say they’re more likely to open a piece of personalized mail, and 90% of U.S. marketers see measurable improvements from data personalization.
In other words, spending a little extra on personalization earns you a lot of money in the long run.
The Best Formats for Variable Data Printing
You could use variable data printing for just about anything, but the technique is most successful (and cost-effective) on direct mail campaigns which are easily customized. Because of this, direct mail content is the easiest and most effective use of variable data printing.
Common formats include things like:
That said, you can use variable data printing for any printed element that benefits from customized information—you’re only limited by your imagination.
How to Make the Most of Variable Data Printing
Your customers don’t want to be a number. And with variable data printing, you can show that you see them as more than just a number.
There are a few ways to do this, but the most common are personalization through customer information and personalization based on previous interactions.
Personalized Customer Information
Personalizing customer information is the most basic way to take advantage of variable data printing, but a little goes a long way.
For example, the easiest way to personalize is by including the customer’s name and address in a headline and on the envelope. But to take it to the next level, you can use the customer’s name throughout the letter.
You can also personalize on a deeper level based on specific information about customers. For example, if you have a sale targeted towards men and a different sale targeted towards women, you can tailor your mailing based on the gender of the recipient. That way, you know they’re getting information that’s relevant to their interests.
Personalize Based on Previous Interactions
A more complex form of variable data printing is to personalize based on the customer’s previous interactions with you.
One of the easiest examples of this is renewal reminders. However, you can also go deeper by offering coupons based on their purchase history. It’s all about taking what you know of the customer’s buying behavior and creating content to target that behavior.
Expert Digital Printing Services You Can Count On for a Great Customer Experience
With the power of variable data printing, you can drive customer engagement through just a few simple modifications to your print order.
Our job is to make that possible.
We offer state-of-the-art digital printing services to large and small businesses, paired with direct mail services to make distribution easy. And when you work with us, you’re working with the largest full-service, privately owned commercial printing company in Nevada, backed by decades of experience.
Ready to drive a better customer experience? Request a printing quote today to find out how our services can empower your marketing.